Can we trust elites?

Routledge - Expected Publication: 2021


Prima Facie, it seems intuitive that those with special training in a given field of study are especially deserving of our trust and admiration, i.e., more deserving than those who lack the relevant expertise. But an odd phenomenon has caught on that likely began in the 20th century, and has only escalated into the 21st. This is the phenomenon of distrust of the so-called “elites.” Hence, counterintuitively, expertise might result in knee-jerk reactions of distrust rather than trust.

Who are these elites? And what have they done to earn such widespread skepticism, if not also contempt? This, question, just who are these elites, is the first issue the book explores. Going against what might seem an obvious description, I argue that membership in the elite class is not primarily about education, IQ, employment, or social status, but rather a worldview and ideological outlook. This unconventional description sets the scene for the book’s second aim, i.e. trying to understand why there is such widespread distrust and whether this distrust is morally or epistemically justified. In short, the book contends it is and it is not. The extent to which it is not justified is a cornerstone to the book’s third aim: the ethics of membership in the elite class. I argue that elites have certain ethical and epistemic duties to the public, duties that they largely reneged on as of the late. These duties include making efforts that their ideas not be so grossly misunderstood, and that their intellectual advantages are not kept entirely to themselves and their cohorts.

Tentative Chapters

Chapter 1: Who are the Elites?

Chapter 2: What explains distrust of elites? Is this distrust justified?

Chapter 3: Defining Disagreements

Chapter 4: Earning Public Trust

Chapter 5: The Epistemology and Ethics of Engagement

Future Book Projects

I work on too many things at once, and often don't know which project I will run with until context gives me reason to go left instead of right. At the moment, I have 3 projects, all of which might turn into books once I complete the project above. The first, "Healthcare, Disability, and Parental Authority" considers the extent to which parents ought to have control over their minor children's medical decisions. I focus in on disability, because, (1) treatment for disabilities are often strictly optional, but yet also undoubtedly improve quality of life, and (2) disability sometimes results in parental rights being extended into adulthood. The imagined book does have chapters that are not strictly disability focused. The second, "On Good and Bad People" is a virtue theory themed attempt at understanding what people *do* mean, and what they *ought* to mean, when they say things like, "she's a good person," or "he's a bad guy," or "he's a really, really, good person." I want to understand what it really means to be a good person, and whether being a good person is good enough. I also want to know what separates average people from bad people, and whether good people can or should be friends with bad ones. Lastly, I am very excited about my project, "The Ethics of Dating." In some sense, this project combines issues from the other two just mentioned. The imagined book is an analysis of ethical issues specific to early-term romance, which will include discussion on the relation between being a good person and being a good date, and also the ethics of dating in relation to individual and public health, i.e., STD's, abortions, mental health, and dating with disabilities.